Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A notion on faith

I read a quote yesterday on Sacred Space, the Jesuit daily prayer site I often visit, that said something akin to faith is more God's contribution to us than our contribution to God. It's by His grace that we're able to stay faithful, and he doesn't really need our faith or our praise. One thing I remembered in the Grand Canyon was how small I am in the vast scheme of things, seeing rock formations that have been there for a million years, reflecting the power of nature and the antlike smallness of our individual lives. Not to say that our lives are not important, but it's hard to boast about my life before sights like the Grand Canyon.
I had another divine inspiration in the Canyon: I was inspired to dance. I woke up at 5 am my last morning there and went to see the sunrise with a tour group. At first, I listened to our folksy tour guide telling about Canyon lore, but as the sun rose, I wanted quiet...or so I thought. I left the tour group and walked along the rim, and as the morning wind hit my arms, I felt this wave of joy rush inside me. So I turned on my IPod and jammed: the song was "I Grieve," by Peter Gabriel, which has an excellent upbeat jam at the end about life's richness in spite of our mortality. It was perfect for gettin' down at the Canyon.
I promise I'll have photos up soon. Hope to hear from you all. God bless.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Dear friends,

Nothing much to report this week on the religious end. Last night my roommate took me out for a night of African dj dancing, so I missed the Unitarian service this morning. And unfortunately with spring break now going on, there were no services going on. However, that did give me a chance to apply to the International Women's Health Coalition for communications work with them.
In the meantime, I finished reading Shane Claiborne's book Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers, which I thoroughly recommend for any Christians who have a burning desire to put their faith to action. Too many times we're encouraged to concentrate on our own lives: Claiborne examines well how our faith calls us to do justice in the world. And thankfully he does so with a focus on justice for the poor above all else.
I'm now reading Amy Orr-Ewing's Is believing in God irrational? which may be the first apologetics text I've ever looked at. I'm not so sure how I'll like it, but the intro certainly spoke to me, with the author talking about her changing attitude towards God in the years she struggled with cancer as an adolescent. She's an emotional reader: we'll see about her arguments.
I welcome any recommendations from you-basically, I try to start off my day with about 10 minutes of spiritual reading, so as long as it's the kind of book you CAN read in bits, I'm into it.
I wish you all the best this week. I'm off to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon: I'll make sure to put together an online photo album and provide a link. Take care!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


A nine year old girl complains to her mother of stomach pains. Mom takes her daughter to the hospital, and they find out she's 4 months pregnant with twins. How? The girl reveals that her stepfather has been sexually abusing her for years, along with her 14-year-old sister. The stepfather is arrested, while trying to get out of the city. The hospital says that as the girl weighs only 80 pounds, the pregnancy could be dangerous. As it's a case of both health risks and rape, it's a perfectly legal abortion, and Mom decides to let the doctors abort the twins.

Somehow word gets out to the local Catholic church. The next day, the mother and the two doctors she worked with are excommunicated. The stepfather though is not excommunicated. The local archbishop says that even though the stepfather committed a heinous crime, "the abortion- the elimination of an innocent life – was more serious."

This happened in Brazil this week, but it feels like it could have happened anywhere. The Vatican got involved yesterday and affirmed the decision of the archbishop. Cardinal Giovanni Re said, "It is a sad case but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated," he said.

The real problem. It boggles my mind and infuriates me as a former Catholic to see my church now so focused on abortion that the rape of a 9-year-old girl by her stepfather is less of a problem than the removal of his seed from her body. His rape is less of a sin than allowing her to return to her childhood without his children inside her.

The Catholic Church doctrine on dangerous pregnancies is that a Caesarean section is always an alternative to abortion. However, C-sections are healthiest at full-term pregnancy. So, in effect, the church was suggesting that the nine-year-old should have borne her father's seed for another half a year, and for having not chosen that, the mother and doctors are greater condemned than the father.

The church's decision is madness shrouded in logic, absent of any compassion for human beings dealing with horror.

It's not clear how far this case will go. No article I've read so far speaks to the nuances of excommunication. In one story, one of the doctors said that he would continue going to mass afterwards, but going to mass is usually not forbidden by an excommunication. Usually, excommunication forbids you from taking part in sacraments except for Reconciliation, but you can still attend Mass. In fact, it's encouraged. Only in its more extreme versions does the church completely shun the excommunicated.

The next question becomes what kind of reconciliation the church will demand. Should these people say that what they did was wrong? That they should have allowed the nine-year-old to carry twins for another five months? And what of the father? What will be demanded of him by the church? The Vatican says that rape is inherently evil and incest even more so. Yet the father will be welcomed to Communion in his Brazilian jail cell, and the mother turned away.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Here the threat is not only to justice, but to common sense and compassion. What happened in Brazil was the destruction of both a family and a child's innocence, and the church's actions have only made matters worse. Our duty is to heal the broken before we judge them.